Several drywall manufacturers have agreed to pay a class of direct purchasers an additional $125 million to settle price-fixing claims in multidistrict litigation being overseen by a Pennsylvania federal court, class counsel said Tuesday.
Co-counsel for the class, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, said in a statement Tuesday that the agreements bring the total settlement amount for the class up to $190.7 million, and said the deal concludes the direct purchasers’ portion of the litigation. The latest settlements were struck with affiliates of American Gypsum Co., National Gypsum Co. and PABCO Building Products LLC, while prior agreements were reached with three other manufacturers, including Lafarge North America Inc.
“We’re pleased with this settlement for our class of 14,000 plaintiff entities and believe it sends a strong message to the rest of the industry,” Kit A. Pierson, a partner with Cohen Milstein who served as co-lead counsel on case, said in Tuesday’s statement. “When companies violate the antitrust laws and drive up prices for their customers, they will be held accountable.”
Consolidated in 2013, the suits accuse the drywall manufacturers of conspiring to hike prices starting in 2011, while the companies have argued they were just following the lead of American Gypsum, which was the first to raise its prices. The buyers also allege the companies made agreements to change their price quoting practices around the same time, conspiring to no longer provide so called job quotes, which used to lock prices in for the duration of a specific project regardless of market fluctuations.
After the case largely survived a summary judgment bid, U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson in August certified a class of direct purchasers, which includes distributors, buying cooperatives and contractors, that purchased paper-backed gypsum wallboard directly from the defendants anytime in 2012 or 2013.
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